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The Tapwave Zodiac, in aluminum case

The Zodiac is a mobile entertainment console released in October 2003 by Tapwave.[1]

The product was designed to be a "high performance mobile entertainment system” centered on games, music, pictures, and video for 18 to 34 year old gamers and technology enthusiasts. By running an enhanced version of the Palm Operating System (5.2T), Zodiac also provided access to Palm’s personal information management software and many other applications from the Palm developer community.

The Zodiac console was initially available in two models, Zodiac 1 (32MB) for $299 US, and Zodiac 2 (128MB) for $399 US. Some of the more noteworthy game titles for the product included: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4; Mototrax; Spyhunter; Madden NFL 2005; DOOM II; Warfare Incorporated; and Duke Nukem Mobile.

Due to strong competitive pressures from the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) and lack of funding to drive premier game development and compete effectively in the market, Tapwave discontinued the sale of the console on 25 July 2005[2 ] and sold substantially all of its assets to an undisclosed multi-billion dollar corporation in Asia.

While Zodiac sold fewer than 200,000 units,[3] the console garnered strong product reviews and received many industry awards. A few examples include: Popular Science’s 2003 Best of What’s New (BOWN) Award;[4] Stuff Magazine’s Top 10 Gadgets of the Year for 2004;[5] Wired Magazine’s Fetish Award;[6] CNET’s Editor's Choice Award; PC World’s 2004 Next Gear Innovations Award;[7] PC Magazine’s 1st Place Last Gadget Standing at CES; Handheld Computing Magazines’s Most Innovative PDA of 2003;[8] Time Magazine’s Best Gear of 2003, and Business Week’s Best Products of 2003.

Contents

Main Features

Music, photos and video

MP3 music files can be played from either SD slot, or the internal memory of the device. The music player is included in the system's applications, and allows the creation of custom playlists using drag-and-dropping of files. MP3 files can also be used as alarms, along with conventional alarms.

Photos were downloaded to the device using the Palm Desktop software or loaded onto the SD cards, and could be shared and made into a slideshow (with background music) on the device.

The default player on the device, Kinoma, would only play videos in a proprietary format, converter using the Kinoma Producer software (which supported conversion of MPEG1, MPEG4, QuickTime, AVI and DivX). The software however was limited in its conversion abilities, enticing users to pay for the full version. It has been suggested that this difficulty in converting video for the device diminished the Zodiac's success. Several aftermarket DivX and XviD players have been developed (such as the TCPMP), and, at the time of bankruptcy, Tapwave were working on an update to supply MPEG-4 hardware decoding.

Device Design

Due to the metal construction of the Zodiac, the device was seen to be more solid than other PDAs. However, on some models the adhesive on the shoulder buttons failed, and occasionally the screen was scratched by the screen cover when grit entered. Furthermore, due to the insecure clip holding the stylus, they could be knocked loose and potentially lost. Some alternative cases solved this problem with their own stylus holder.

Compatibility

Most PalmOS 5-compatible games play on the Zodiac, as well as games designed specifically for the Zodiac's hardware. A great deal of freeware and shareware games and emulators are therefore available. For example, there are versions of Doom, Quake, Hexen, Hexen II, and Heretic as well as versions of emulators such as UAE, ScummVM, and LJZ/LJP, a multi-system emulator. There have also been attempts to emulate PlayStation games onto the Zodiac, the most successful emulator being PPSX.[9] It is, however, nowhere near completion and many games are not playable as of yet.

Battery

The device has a total battery life of about 3 hours when using audio, backlight+screen and CPU-intensive tasks, and while running as a dedicated audio player it is closer to 6 hours. The original battery was a 1500mAh Li-Ion; third party replacements with 2000mAh capacity are still available from some manufacturers.

Software

The Tapwave Zodiac used a modified version of the 5.2T Palm OS. The main navigation menus consisted of 8 radially-arranged choices selected using either the touchscreen or thumbstick. It also came with the Palm OS Productivity Suite (containing a calendar, to do list etc.), an ebook reader, the Wordsmith word processor and the powerOne graphing application. It came bundled with two games, AcidSolitare (by Red Mercury) and Stunt Car Extreme (by Vasara Games).

Zodiac Games

Games which utilized some or all of the Zodiac's hardware/software are incompatible with standard Palm OS devices. This does exclude platforms outside of Palm OS (e.g., Doom II is also out for PC, but the Zodiac version listed here won't run on standard Palm OS handhelds). This list also excludes standard Palm OS games which are also available for Zodiac handhelds, which were either identical or slightly improved on Zodiac, called "Zodiac tuned" (e.g. a game available for standard Palm OS only has the extra features of vibration and shoulder buttons as extra usable buttons when played on Zodiac).

Some of the games were never released due to the discontinuation of the Zodiac in July 2005. However, the testing builds of some of these games were leaked and are playable.

  • Animated Dudes
  • Avalanche
  • Firefly: Pacman clone
  • Gloop Zero by AeonFlame: (was shareware, but is now freeware) puzzle game where you direct the flow of liquid slime material to its goal by drawing platform lines and using other tools.
  • Orbz (was shareware, but is now freeware as of September 2006)
  • StarPong
  • Stunt Car Extreme: 3D, 1st-person or 3rd-person racing game. Comes with the Zodiac CD.
  • Xploids

Zodiac Exclusive titles also available on SD card.

Homebrew (Freeware)

  • ZDoomZ, a ZDoom port to Palm/Zodiac
  • ZHexen, a Hexen port to Palm/Zodiac
  • ZHeretic, a Heretic port to Palm/Zodiac
  • ZHexen2, Hexen2 port to Palm/Zodiac
  • LJP, a multisystem emulator for Palm/Zodiac
  • LJZ, the old version of LJP, discontinued.
  • pPSX, the most successful PSX emulator for the Zodiac created by ZodTTD
  • ReverZi, an Othello/Reversi clone for Zodiac
  • ZodMAME, a MAME port to the Zodiac
  • ZodNEO, a NeoGeo port to the Zodiac
  • ZodSCUMM, ScummVM port to the Zodiac
  • ZSpectrum, a ZX Spectrum port to the Zodiac
  • REminiscence, a Zodiac port of Flashback
  • Thruster, a fast-paced cave flyer.
  • Noiz2sa
  • Orbital Sniper, Look down from high above and shoot hostiles in a city grid layout while protecting innocent lives. (Freeware)
  • Zodtris, Zodiac only version of Tetris. (Freeware)
  • Zap 'Em, a close conversion of Zoop for PC (Freeware)
  • ZoT
  • Zyrian
  • Another World
  • ZodTTD, an OpenTTD port to the Zodiac

Unreleased but leaked games

Hardware Specifications

Two versions of the Zodiac are available, differing only in the amount of memory and case color

  • CPU: Motorola i.MX1 ARM9 processor (200 MHz)
  • Memory: Zodiac 1 had 32 MB. Zodiac 2 had 128 MB. Both have 10 MB Dedicated to the System Dynamic RAM
  • Graphic Accelerator: ATI Imageon W4200 2D graphics accelerator (with 8 MB dedicated SDRAM)
  • Controls: Analog controller (or joystick) with 360 degrees of motion, built-in triggers and action button array similar to other gaming consoles.
  • Display: 3.8 inch transflective 480 x 320 (half VGA), 16-bit color backlit display (65,536 colors)
  • Sound: Yamaha sound and stereo speakers, 3.5 mm earphone plug
  • External Connectors: 2 expansion slots (both are MMC / SD capable, one is also SDIO capable), Zodiac Connector, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Wireless: Infrared, Bluetooth (Compatible with some Wifi SDIO cards depending on drivers)
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Batteries – Dual totaling to 1540 mA·h
  • Size & Weight: 5.6" x 3.1" x 0.55" (142x79x14 mm), 6.3 ounces (180 g)
    • Compare to the Palm TX which is smaller at 78x15x121 mm due to fewer buttons, but includes WiFi
  • Colors: Zodiac 1: Slate Gray, Zodiac 2: Charcoal Gray
  • Casing: Synthetic rubber, anodized aluminum, plastic

Peripherals and accessories

  • 5V regulated DC switch mode battery charger, using proprietary connector.
  • USB PC synchronization cable, incorporating pass-through female charger connector (allowing charging from mains whilst synchronizing)
  • Car battery charger
  • Cradle Attachment for sync cable (poorly designed, unreliable electrical contacts)
  • Folding Keyboard (some 3rd party Bluetooth & IR models, unknown whether dedicated keyboard capable of using sync cable connector existed)
  • Some SDIO Cameras can be used such as the Veo Camera.

Industry Awards

The Zodiac received a number of noteworthy industry awards. Some of these include:

  • Popular Science - BOWN Award
  • Stuff Magazine (UK) - Top 10 Gadgets of the Year
  • Wired Magazine - Fetish Award
  • CNET - Editor's Choice Award
  • PC World - 2004 Next Gear Innovations Award
  • PC World - Editor’s Pick
  • Consumer Digest - Best Buy Award
  • Laptop Magazine - Hot Pick
  • PC Magazine - 1st Place Last Gadget Standing
  • Handheld Computing - Most Innovative PDA
  • Business Week - Best Products of 2003
  • Business Week - 2004 Design Excellence Award
  • Time Magazine – Best Gear 2003

In pop culture

The Tapwave Zodiac can also be seen throughout Stargate SG-1 including recently in the 10th Season as a sensor device used by Col. Samantha Carter and Vala Mal Doran.

Trivia

The Zodiac was originally going to be named the "Helix" but was renamed.[11]

During development of the Zodiac, the code name of the device was "Road Dawg" and the code name of the desktop software was "Elvis".

The AlphaSmart Dana is the only Palm OS device aside from the Zodiac with two slots for SD card media.[12]

References

  1. ^ "The Tapwave Zodiac Console Now Shipping". pcvsconsole.com. 2003-11-03. http://www.pcvsconsole.com/news.php?nid=2195.  
  2. ^ "Tapwave Discontinues Zodiac Business". Palm InfoCenter.com. 2005-07-27. http://www.palminfocenter.com/news/7990/tapwave-discontinues-zodiac-business/.  
  3. ^ Blake Snow (2007-07-30). "The 10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time". GamePro.com. http://www.gamepro.com/gamepro/domestic/games/features/125748.shtml. Retrieved 2008-01-17.  
  4. ^ "Top 10 Gadgets of the Year". Stuff Magazine - UK Edition. December 2004.  
  5. ^ Seth Feman (October 2003). "Palm Boy Advance - Zodiac Plays Hard Works hard". Wired Magazine.  
  6. ^ "Tech Visionaries - Next Gear". PC World Magazine. February 2004.  
  7. ^ "The Best Products of the Year". Handhled Computing Magazine. Jan/February 2004 Issue.  
  8. ^ http://www.emuboards.com/invision/index.php?showtopic=24315
  9. ^ http://www.cinergi-interactive.com/html/corporate_page_01_profile.htm
  10. ^ http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=5753 http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=5753
  11. ^ Dana Wireless

See also


Redirecting to Tapwave Zodiac


Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Category:Tapwave article)

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Tapwave
Tapwave's company logo.
Founded May, 2001
Located Mountain View, California, USA
Closed 2005

Tapwave was founded in May 2001 by former Palm executives. In 2002, Tapwave signed a Palm OS licensing agreement with PalmSource, and formally launched their company at Palm Developers Conference & E3 the following year. Later in 2003, they showcased their Zodiac handheld entertainment console at a DEMO conference. The new console began shipping to customers directly from livescribe.com.

Tapwave announced that "over 1,200 game developers" signed up for the Tapwave developer program, and in early 2004, PalmGear and Tapwave announced a partnership to launch an online store to feature the best applications, game titles and ebooks available on the Palm OS platform. In the summer of the same year, the Zodiac launched into U.S. retail distribution with CompUSA. Throughout the rest of the year, Tapwave's console launched in the United Kingdom, Singapore and South Korea. Also in 2004, the Zodiac was upgraded with audio book support, and a Wi-Fi SD card with "enhanced mail application and web browser".

Despite good reviews for the Zodiac, many extra features and worldwide distribution network, strong competitive pressures from the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS forced Tapwave to discontinue the sale of the Zodiac mobile entertainment console. The company subsequently sold nearly all of its assets to an undisclosed multi-billion dollar corporation in Asia before they wound down operations.

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  • Doom II: Hell on Earth







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